Mercy LIFE participants create welcome cards for refugees
Love. Welcome. Hope.
Those were some of the heartfelt words participants at Mercy LIFE’s Sharon Hill Adult Day Center recently shared on handmade cards. It was part of a project with a very meaningful message: welcoming Syrian refugees to the community.
Rachael Borders and Amal Abdelfattah, both certified recreational therapists at the Sharon Hill Adult Day Center, worked on the project together. The idea came about after the President’s first travel ban took effect. That order banned entry to the U.S. for people from seven nations.
Sharing messages of welcome
Dozens of Mercy LIFE participants made 40 to 50 cards. They decorated them with glitter and color markers. With help from Amal, some shared messages in both Arabic and English.
“They wrote some very touching messages,” Rachael says. “Things like, ‘Welcome to Philly,’ ‘God bless’ and ‘Your home is our home.’”
Rachael and Amal held the group project twice. That way all the participants who wanted to help could get involved.
The cards went to ICNA Relief USA. That group will give the cards to area refugee families.
A good deed for everyone
Although the refugees were the main group to benefit from the project, they weren’t the only ones.
“We did this for the refugees, but also for the participants,” Rachael says. “They don’t have a chance to give back as much as they would like. That’s often due to difficulties getting around in the community. This way they could give back and volunteer in a different way.”
Participants also learned about Syrian culture and music.
“They love learning about a variety of cultures,” Rachael says. “They pay attention to the news. Groups like this one really keep them engaged in what’s going on in the outside community.”
After a local reporter wrote an article about the welcome cards project, the story spread around the country. It showed up in newspapers from the Carolinas to California.
“That was amazing,” Rachael says. “We weren’t expecting that. But we were glad to show other people how they can be good stewards of their communities too.”